Bill to boost healthcare transparency and child welfare funding heads to DeSantis’ desk

by | Apr 26, 2024

A bill enhancing healthcare billing transparency and reforming child welfare funding has advanced to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis and awaits his signature.

Legislation aimed healthcare billing transparency and child welfare funding reached Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk Thursday evening and now awaits his signature.

The unanimously approved bill mandates changes in the management and financial oversight of healthcare services within the state. It requires hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) to either publicly disclose the prices for at least 300 ‘shoppable services’—non-emergency services that patients can schedule in advance—or offer an online pricing tool that adheres to federal standards.”

Under the measure’s purview, facilities must also disclose instances where the cost-sharing amount for insured patients exceeds the cash price for uninsured patients. Hospitals and ASCs will further be required to provide patients with cost estimates before services are rendered and health plans must give an advanced explanation of benefits to patients within specified timelines.

“As consumers bear a greater share of health care costs, and more consumers participate in high deductible health plans (HDHP), consumers need clear, factual and easy to access information about the cost and quality of health care,” a House legislative analysis states. “Such information is essential for consumers if they are to make value-driven health care decisions.”

The bill introduces several protections against medical debt that significantly impact how hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) handle collections by prohibiting these facilities from engaging in “extraordinary” collection actions, such as lawsuits or significant credit reporting, to recover outstanding debts. Additionally, the legislation sets a new three-year statute of limitations for collecting medical debts, beginning when the debt is referred to a third-party collector. The legislation protects up to $10,000 of a debtor’s property from legal actions like attachment or garnishment.

The contractual relationships between the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and community-based child welfare lead agencies (CBCs) are also overhauled in the bill. It introduces a framework for contractual oversight aimed at preventing conflicts of interest, mandating screenings before a CBC can engage in subcontracting or transactions with related entities.

Furthermore, the bill mandates that CBCs undergo a systematic approval process conducted by the DCF before they are allowed to exceed predetermined limits on direct services while also establishing penalties for violations related to procurement laws, breaches of contract, or subpar performance.


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